Poker Tournaments Strategy Guide

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If you are looking to get in on some poker tournament action and are looking for some pointers, we have got you covered. This guide will break down some of the best ways to go about it.

How to Play Tournament Poker

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It goes without saying that the first thing that you should know before diving into any tournament is how to play at least one or more variants of poker. In most cases, poker tournaments involve Hold’em games which are quite popular in both online and land-based poker rooms. Mobile poker apps tend not to favour tournament hobbyists due to its limited screen size but there have been some excellent leaps in the last decade for tournament play on mobile.

You should also be aware of the different types of poker tournaments that are available at various poker rooms. For instance, the elimination or freezeout poker tournaments, involve the players beginning with the same number of chips and the top finishers getting to enjoy a portion of the pot. There are also rebuy tournaments where players can buy additional chips within a given period (usually two hours) if they lose all of them. Shootout tournaments are special elimination tables where each table plays down to a single winner and this is repeated till the final table consisting of winners from different tables. We also have satellite tournaments that lead up to larger tournaments.

Poker Tournament Rules

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In most tournaments, the rules of poker during a tournament event are the same as the rules that apply to regular live games or cash games. Players are required to keep their chops on the table and visible at all times – these chips are not to be given to or handles by any other player during the game. Your cards are private and should remain hidden until the showdown.

In addition to that, just like in cash games, the players are required to verbally announce the actions they take at the poker tournament table. That is, they will need to audibly or loudly announce that they intend to call, raise, fold, check, or bet.

The use of strategies and tricks is usually allowed so long as said strategies are not legal. Cheating is, obviously, frowned upon and thus you should make sure you are operating within the confines of the rules of poker and those of the specific tournament you are a part of.

How to Win Poker Tournaments

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One of the things that stood up for me as I participated in poker tournaments is how significantly the strategies differed from what I was used to in live games or cash games. This, as I came to learn, is simply defined by the high level of play – tournaments usually attract top poker players and professionals who have been at it for years and have been able to craft some of the greatest strategies in existence.

That said, the best way of ensuring that you have a fighting chance at poker tournaments is to try to learn and adapt to as many different tricks or strategies as you can. When you are still starting, you should begin with smaller poker room tournaments and build upon your skills as you pick on more tips in the journey to becoming a better player in tournaments. Our online poker tournament strategy guide has some tips for you in that regard.

Poker Tournament Payout Structure

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The payout structure of any poker tournaments is very important as it not only determines the kind of players who participate in the tournament but also has a lot to do with the way the pot is distributed. Perhaps the most notable payout structures for only tournaments are the “Top heavy” and the “conservative” payout structures.

A conservative payout structure is one where many of the participating poker players will receive a payout – usually, a quarter or a fifth of the players get to walk away with some cash. The winner often ends up with about a fifth of the total tournament prize. Some players, especially newbies or inexperienced gamers, prefer tournaments with this kind of payout structure.

A top-heavy tournament payout structure, on the other hand, is where most of the money goes to just a few of the players, that is, about 10 percent of the players. Tournaments with this kind of payout structure are often liked by poker pros looking to cash in big wins since they get to walk away with 30 to 50 percent of the prize money.

Despite all this, being a tournament winner or being among the top three certainly pays off quite well. You can, of course, change things up in case you are having a home poker tournament but even then, you can use any of the available payout structures that can easily be found on the internet.

And before you ask, tournaments do not pay in Bitcoin 🙂 (yet!)

Poker Tournament Tips

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As mentioned earlier, this online poker tournament strategy guide aims to equip you with some handy tips that have the potential to push you close to a win whether you are playing online or offline.

The first tip I would recommend is for you to be very patient. It is great to wait till you have strong hands before you attempt to manipulate the pot, something that requires some patience. Ideally, you should try and trap weaker opponents into revealing their cards. If you happen to have big cards, you will want to defend them very well.

As the game progresses, we would also recommend studying the game plan of your opponents. This will help you to make well-calculated decisions as you progress towards more aggressive bluffing and gameplay. Moreover, you will want to adjust your game appropriately and make use of the most effective strategies you can think of. Being aware of multiple strategies means that you can easily switch between them so in this challenge with new difficult depths than ever before, a tight poker face is the least of your worries.

Also worth noting is the fact that you should keep your eyes on the prize. As opposed to regular cash games where the goal is to collect as many chips as possible, your goal in poker tournaments is to last as long as possible and go as far as possible to be among players who will receive a share of the pot. You have to be mindful of the hands you play since the one that you can play most aggressively will have a better chance of winning the pot.

Best Poker Tournament in Vegas

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If you are in search of the very best poker tournament in Vegas, you will be happy to hear that there are tons of great options for you. Las Vegas poker room tournaments let players dive into a ton of action-packed fun while giving them a chance to win huge sums of money. Whether you prefer daily tournaments or weekly tournaments, there will be something for you to dig your teeth into.

I had the liberty of trying out a decent number of Vegas poker tournaments and while nearly all of them are worth giving a shot, there are a few that truly stood out. These are:

Wynn/Encore’s $30,000 Guaranteed Weekly Tournament

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Now, if you are looking to win big, this is one of the weekly tournaments that you will definitely want to keep your eyes peeled on. The $230 buy-in tournament features a whopping 15,000 starting chips, 40-minute levels, unlimited rebuys through the first six levels, as well as starting blinds 100/100. Catch some of this action every Sunday at noon.

The Orleans’ $15,000 Guaranteed Weekly Tournament

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The Orleans lets poker lovers end the week with a bang with their amazing $130 buy-in, $15,000 guaranteed poker tournament. The action kicks with each player having 15,000 starting chips and access to unlimited rebuys within the first five levels. Levels last 30 minutes in this case. This goes down every Friday at 1900HRS.

Golden Nugget’s $5,000 Guaranteed Weekly Tournament

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Every Sunday at 1100 HRS, Golden Nugget lets poker lovers dive into an exciting $125 buy-in weekly tournament where the players battle it out for a piece of the $5,000 cash prize. It features 15,000 starting chips, 20-minute levels for the first 8 levels as well as unlimited rebuys for the first seven levels. For anyone who is a sucker for value, you will not want to miss out on this one.

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The popularity of any poker tournament is determined by a number of things including the number of poker players who participate in them as well as the amount that is to be won. Over the past two decades, poker tournaments have grown so big and attract hundreds of pro players and fans from across the globe. At any given point, there will be a poker tournament of some kind going down and it is all up to you to find the ones that best suit your preferences.

Even so, some poker tournaments stand out way more than others which is expected given the very competitive nature of the industry. Still, finding something that appeals to you should not be much of a problem so long as you know what you are setting yourself up for.

World Series of Poker Tournament

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Often stylized as WSOP, the World Series of Poker is, without a doubt, the most popular tournament on the planet. Not only does this annual poker event series attract the largest number of pro poker players but the action is also enjoyed by millions of people from all corners of the world. It has been around for over 50 years and in the period that it has existed, it has broken several records and produced some of the best poker players.

The World Series of Poker is known for having a huge Main Event and taking the action to a number of luxurious locations in the United States and Europe. Las Vegas is one of the most popular locations where the tournament is held in case you want to try your hand at being the Poker Champion of the World.

Live Poker Tournaments

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These are very popular options for people looking to get in on some poker action without having to wait for the highly-acclaimed annual poker events. Live poker tournaments are held on a regular basis, usually daily, weekly, and even monthly, at many locations across the United States and the rest of the world. Las Vegas, Nevada, boasts of some of the most prolific casino destinations and here poker lovers can get some live poker tournament action at any of the poker rooms in the city.

Daily, weekly, or monthly live poker tournaments are great for practice as you wait for the high-profile annual poker tournaments such as the World Series of Poker.

Satellite Poker Tournaments Online

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Satellite poker tournaments are very popular among online tournament players. These are essential special kinds of qualifier tournaments where the final prize is not money. Winners are rewarded with free entry into other tournaments that often require relatively higher buy-ins. Since most huge poker tournaments require players to part with huge sums of money as buy-ins, the satellite tournaments are a great way for poker players who are on a budget to join the action.

As it stands, poker players can win free entries into most, if not all, of the most popular poker tournaments on the planet. These include the European Poker Tour (EPT), the World Poker Tour (WPT), and the World Series of Poker (WSOP) among others.

EPT Poker Tournaments

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The European Poker Tournaments (EPT) is a series of poker tournaments that kicked off back in 2004 and have since grown to be some of the most iconic events in the world of poker. In 2011, It came under the control of PokerStars, one of the most renowned poker operators in existence and this boosted its popularity even further. Held in several premier and luxury destinations across Europe, the event series is even televised by Sunset + Vine which broadcasts the action across the continent. Just like other popular poker tournaments, players can either buy-in or get a seat at the tables by participating in satellite tournaments which are usually held by PokerStars.

Tournament Poker Chips

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The choice of great poker chips depends widely on one’s tastes and preferences but when it comes to tournaments, a few other factors have to be considered. Some of the things that determine this choice will be the appearance of the chips and the rarity. After a bit of research, we found a few great choices that are also some of the most popular tournament chips in existence. They are:

  • WSOP Tournament Poker Chips – These well-designed chips offer a great tournament experience. They not only look good but also feel and sound very nice at the gaming tables. Moreover, their WSOP branding means that they are built with luxury and premium gameplay in mind.
  • EPT Tournament Poker Chips – As the name suggests, these chips have the European Poker Tour branding. In my opinion, the set is among the most good-looking chips I have ever come across.
  • Tournament Pro Series Poker Chips – Crafted with poker professionals in mind, this amazing set of poker chips fit right in at ay tournament due to their unique and colorful design.
  • Premier Tournament Poker Chips – With a simple yet unique design, these poker chips have all that it takes to raise your tournament experience to the next level. If you are looking for quality, these chips will deliver on that.

All of the chips listed above can be ordered online on sites like mandychips.com which has several other amazing poker chip set options. Some will definitely be pricier than others depending on the material used for the chips. Still, it is amazing that you can choose plastic, clay, and ceramic.

Tournament Poker Strategy Articles

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Need some pointers on the best tips and tricks that will give you an edge at poker tournaments? Thankfully, there are tons of articles on the internet offering some very handy strategies that will certainly go a long way in improving your gameplay and overall gaming experience. A few of the ones that I really enjoyed reading include:

Tournament Poker Edge. – This site is a great resource for poker players who love to pick the brains of fellow poker players and not just poker pros. Literally any poker player can share tips and strategies which can then be discussed and rated by the readers.

888. – It goes without saying that 888poker.com offers some of the most comprehensive beginner guides to poker players. Whether you are a beginner or a pro player, you will certainly find something that is worth your time on this site.

Upswing Poker. –  Just like 888, the upswingpoker.com has all the information you need to be a great poker player. Many poker pros often offer tips through articles on the site.


How do you win poker tournaments?

In order to win at any poker tournament, you should aim to last as long as possible in order to be among the top players who get a share of the prize money. To help you achieve this, you can apply some gaming strategies that will give you an edge over your opponents.

How do poker tournaments work?

Poker tournaments involve a large number of poker players competing for a prize pool that is guaranteed by an operator. Each player is given some starting chips after paying a buy-in which is essentially a participation fee.

How do I enter the World Poker Tournament?

Interested poker players can compete in qualifying tournaments or different satellite tournaments where the prize is an entry into the WPT. Alternatively, high rollers can enter by simply paying the $25,000 fee.

What is a poker tournament?

A poker tournament is a special kind of poker game that involves multiple players competing to win a portion of the prize pool after paying an entry fee.

How long do poker tournaments last?

It is rather difficult to accurately determine how long a poker tournament will last since all of them are usually designed to play out until there is a winner. Some other factors such as the number of players as well as the type of poker game being played may affect how long the tournaments last.

How do you become a better poker tournament player?

The best way to become a great player is to practice as often as possible. This way, you will get to hone your skills and craft great strategies that will give you an edge at the gaming tables. You can also watch pro poker players and read articles that detail some great strategies.

How do you play live poker tournaments?

Playing live poker tournaments is easy as playing a regular poker game with the main difference being that more is at stake and you will probably be competing against lots of great opponents for a shot at the pot.

How to qualify for poker tournaments

Aside from paying the buy-in in order to enter poker tournaments, players also have the option of participating in qualifier and satellite tournaments where the prizes are entries to bigger tournaments.

How do poker tournaments pay out?

Poker tournaments will have different payout structures but, in most cases, they use a top-heavy structure where just the top players get to share the prize money. The winner usually gets the lion’s share.

Do poker tournaments use real money?

No. poker tournaments involve the use of tournament poker chips which the players obtain by paying a fixed buy-in.

How do I join a poker tournament?

Joining most poker tournaments is a simple as paying the fixed buy-in. In other cases, you can join bigger poker tournaments by participating in and winning smaller poker tournaments such as satellites or qualifiers.

How does a poker tournament work?

Poker tournaments involve many poker players competing to get a portion of the prize pool and they only end when a player nabs all of the chips and is declared a winner. Blind levels in poker tournaments usually increase at regular intervals.


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